Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Samadhi Mean?

Samadhi is the eighth and final step on the path of yoga, as defined by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The term is derived from several Sanskrit roots; sam meaning "together" or "completely," a meaning "toward" and dhe, meaning "put." Direct translations vary, and interpretations range from "bliss" to "liberation" and even "enlightenment."

In Hinduism and Buddhism, samadhi is regarded as the pinnacle of all spiritual and intellectual activity, in addition to being a precondition for attaining samsara (release from the cycle of death and rebirth).

In yoga, samadhi is considered to be the state in which individual and universal consciousness unite. It is a blissful form of total meditative absorption, reached once the practitioner has moved through the preliminary steps on Patanjal’s eightfold path.

The spiritual significance of Samadhi is profound, since it encompasses self-realization and symbolizes the ultimate connection with the Divine.


Yogapedia Explains Samadhi

One of the most prominent ancient texts on yoga is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a series of 196 aphorisms written in Sanskrit around 400 AD. Patanjali describes yoga as an eightfold path, consisting of eight mind-body disciplines to be mastered. Working through these eight "limbs’"is believed to bring the practitioner to an enlightened state of consciousness known as samadhi, in which it is possible to experience the true Self.

The eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are:

  1. Yamas – Five social observances: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness) asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity) and aparigraha (non-possessiveness).

  2. Niyamas – Five moral observances: saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (self-discipline), svadhyaya (self-study), ishvarapranidhana (devotion or surrender).

  3. Asana – Yoga postures.

  4. Pranayama – Breathing techniques as a means of controlling prana (vital life force energy).

  5. Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses.

  6. Dharana – Concentration.

  7. Dhyana – Meditation.

  8. Samadhi – Enlightenment or bliss.

These eight limbs offer a systematic approach to calming the mind and finding liberation from suffering. The final three stages, dharana, dhyana and samadhi are collectively referred to as Samyama (integration) since they are considered to be inextricably linked.

As such, concentration practices are understood to be the path to truly meditative states, which ultimately lead to samadhi. By this definition, meditation is not a thinking or evaluative practice, but rather a state of complete absorption.

Samadhi is said to be a blissful and calm state of mind, in which the practitioner is no longer able to perceive the act of meditation or define any separate sense of self from it. In releasing the self from ego and the illusion of separation, samadhi is undisturbed by emotions such as desire and anger. As such, samadhi connects practitioners to their true Self as one with universal consciousness.

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